Gilmour as a Gagner Comp

This is Doug Gilmour. He was a very good player at 20 and a difference maker who had sustain over a long period of time. As a junior he had a backwards scouting report (“good defensive forward who can score”) to the point where he passed through his first year of draft eligibility.

In his second year of draft eligibility Gilmour stepped forward offensively but still didn’t have a huge impact. St. Louis drafted him, but deep in the 1982 draft (134th overall) and were delighted by a strong final season in junior.

Two of the many quality people who post from time to time on my blog suggested yesterday that Doug Gilmour might be a better comparable for Sam Gagner than my choice (Vincent Damphousse). I’ve decided to look at it more closely for 2 reasons: the two guys commenting are smart people and if it’s true then it’s a very giddy comparable.

As an NHL rookie, Gilmour was already a very composed hockey player:

  • He led the Blues in playoff scoring as a 20-year old
  • Was +6 on a team that was level at EVs (210-209). That’s impressive, and he did it on a club with some veterans bailing water (Federko was -3, Joey Mullen was -8 and Guy Chouinard was -15 and about to lose his career).
  • The team was 62-56 at EVs when he was on the ice.
  • He scored just 3 goals on the PP (Blues had 79 of them).
  • He scored 1 PK goal (of the 4 St. Louis scored that season).
  • His boxcar numbers were 80gp, 25-28-53 .66points-per-game.
  • He was 6th in team scoring behind a bunch of veterans.
  • He was tied for 3rd on the team in EV goals.

That’s a beauty resume for a 20-year old. However, 2 years is a long time in the development of a hockey player and when that hockey player is Sam Gagner it’s reasonable to assume those two years are going to be strong development seasons. Here’s Gagner’s rookie resume:

  • He was -21 on a team that was -15 (174-189) at evens. Gagner’s plus minus is the least impressive on the team considering toughness of minutes. Although we do not know Gilmour’s quality of opposition and can’t compare them directly I think it’s fair to say the gap between the two (even considering age) is fairly wide at this time. This is the area he’d need to improve heavily in the next two seasons for this comparable to pass muster.
  • The team was 39-60 at EVs when Gagner was on the ice. Lower event, but also a different era. I suspect Gagner’s “event” number will be higher than Gilmour’s when he’s 20.
  • Gagner was 4-12-16 on the Oilers PP as a rookie. Oilers had 54 PP goals.
  • His boxcar numbers were 79gp, 13-36-49, .62points-per-game.
  • He was 3rd in team scoring behind two veterans.
  • He was tied for 8th in EV goals.

I think this shows Gagner has some ways to go but offensively he’s probably going to be better than Gilmour (or at least he’s tracking that way). Scouting reports are always a very good road map in these comparable conversations, and Gilmour’s mentioning “defense” is a significant difference.

We’ll know more one year from now. What is a reasonable expectation for Gagner’s plus minus this winter? Can he cut that puppy in half? If he can, then this comparable will be much more attractive one year from now.

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33 Responses to "Gilmour as a Gagner Comp"

  1. digger says:

    The Gilmour comp (in terms of style of play, anyway) has been out there for a while:

    http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=480825

  2. godot10 says:

    Gilmour was the checking line centre on St. Louis as a rookie.

    Even though he was small and a poor (relatively) skater, he knew both how to play both ways, and how to keep an NHL job and be indispensible from day 1.

    Gagner isn’t close to having the defensive awareness that Gilmour had, but he has the right coach in MacT to teach him.

  3. Schitzo says:

    Gilmour was the checking line centre on St. Louis as a rookie.

    Even though he was small and a poor (relatively) skater, he knew both how to play both ways, and how to keep an NHL job and be indispensible from day 1.

    Paging Marc Pouliot, you have a moral waiting for you in this thread

  4. Paper Designer says:

    I’m not sure it’s all that prudent to seek out comparables to Gagner right now. I think we’re going to need to be able to look at how he goes from junior to NHL rookie to NHL sophomore before we start looking at comparables.

    And let’s not forget that Gagner’s counting numbers may be better than Gilmour’s when you compare the era each played in. Geoff Sanderson at his current age could probably still score sixty points against the “goalies” and “defense” of that era.

  5. Lowetide says:

    digger: I think the Gilmour comp is even older than that, but the real question this post is hoping to discuss is “does Gagner have enough in common with Gilmour for them to be comparables?”

    I don’t think we know the answer, and am still more comfortable at this time with Damphousse.

    schitzo: Pouliot isn’t in this conversation. His best comp is Jarret Stoll.

    paper designer: Of course it’s prudent. The idea of comparables is to find a reasonable match with a good outer marker who gives you the “best case scenario” for a young player.

    If we wait until year 3 we won’t need a comp, we’ll know what he is.

  6. Doogie2K says:

    Pouliot isn’t in this conversation. His best comp is Jarret Stoll.

    I think he was just saying that Marc Pouliot could take a lesson from Gilmour in terms of staying in the NHL long enough to become Jarret Stoll or whomever.

  7. Schitzo says:

    Thanks doogie, that’s bang on. It wasn’t anything more than a passing thought on a prospect who could learn a lesson or two.

  8. spOILer says:

    Sam doesn’t seem to have the right goals-to-assists ratio for either Gilmour or Vinnie.

    Gilmour did have a couple of big assist years and of course, there’s the similarities of stockiness and stride. But I think it is these last two that got Gagner the Gilmour comp originally.

    Vinnie had the hockey sense quality on his draft report IIRC, and I wonder if that’s why you’re leaning that way, LT.

    To me, Gagner’s ratios seem more like a Ron Francis type, another choppy skater, and the draft pedigree is close, but then the size and defensive ability don’t match.

    I agree with Vic’s comments on Sam’s drive and battle though.

    Peter Stastny comes to mind too. Not great speed, but great vision and sense, and a will to win. Could score, but was a better playmaker. Stocky strong.

    Thing is, guys like Clarke, Tottier, Gilmour, Francis were all pretty damn good defensively. We haven’t seen that from Gagner yet, but wasn’t that how he was used on the national team? As the two way centre?

  9. Ender says:

    I don’t know. I’m thinking about it, and maybe my memory is wonky (it really, really could be) but I don’t remember either Gilmour or Damphousse having the creepy knack of seemingly always being in the right place at the right time like Gagner does. I mean, obviously Gretzky comps are a bit much, but watching Gagner’s play reminds me more of Gretsky or Lemieux’s weird ability of knowing where both the puck and the players are at any given point in time.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Damphousse was excellent in the scoring zones, terrific passer and he did in fact have an ability to find creases.

    The biggest difference between the two imo is that Gagner just thinks the game at a level beyond Vincent D and many others. He’s so fucking smart already he made his linemates look foolish several times, as if they had no idea to expect the puck while cruising through the slot.

    He needs to find his Kurri, and it might just be Hemsky.

  11. Schitzo says:

    LT: That’s a bold claim. We all know Hemsky can shoot the puck when he decides to, but do you think pairing him with an elite passer is enough to turn him into a shoot-first scorer?

    In some alternate universe, maybe Lupul was meant to be his Kurri.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Well Kurri was a stunning passer too, he really was. I think Hemsky has grown in this area, he has a real nice shot actually.

    He took 184 of them a year ago.

  13. Schitzo says:

    I’ll be honest, I’m too young to remember much of Kurri before LA – but I look at his stats and in the 4 season streak where he hit 50+ goals every year, he scored more goals than assists in each year but one.

    In my happiest dreams I can’t see Hemsky doing that. I would love to be proven wrong, maybe they feed off each other and both get 40 tap-in goals one season.

  14. Art Vandelay says:

    And let’s not forget that Gagner’s counting numbers may be better than Gilmour’s when you compare the era each played in. Geoff Sanderson at his current age could probably still score sixty points against the “goalies” and “defense” of that era.

    LT, I’m beggin’ ya. You’re the wise sage of the AlGores. Bring the kids up to speed.

    I don’t mean to pick on this guy – and at the risk of sounding like Dick Beddoes or Stan Fischler or some other random geezer – jeebus, the NHL did not just get invented when NHL ’94 came out.

    Playing “torpedo” in Gladiator gear does not make today’s player more talented than Yvon Lambert skating on Pippy Longstockings tube skates with paper boots, newspapers for shin pads, and sticks made out of poplar branches. Weightless, water-proof pads do not mean today’s goalies are better athletes than Gilles Gilbert wearing water-logged boat-anchors and an XXL undershirt for shoulder protection.

    It means today’s players have space-age gear that enables mobility and speed. That’s not the same thing as skill.

    Get past the pinball game and tell me how many players can deliver and take a pass, tape-to-tape? How many can stickhandle (is that even a word any more?) or rag the puck.

    Hell, can anybody cross the blueline and hit the top corner like Gretz? More likely whistle it into the mesh while the graphite snaps.

    Geoff Sanderson is a floater in the 21st century, just like he was a floater in the 90s, and he’d have been a floater in the 70s.

    Take away the booze and the smokes and put Lafleur in the era of year-round training, and he’s still putting up 100-pt seasons.

    /and while you’re at it, get the hell off my lawn, you punks

  15. Asiaoil says:

    If you want to compare – then the fair comparison is Gilmour at 18 when he was an un-drafted kid toiling in junior while Sam put up 50 points in a much tougher defensive NHL. Sam is way way ahead right now. The fair comp really is Sam Gagner NEXT year versus Gilmour’s first year when they are both 20. As for defense – I agree with others in the Gags has the right coach and the right mentality to become a quality 2 way player. We’ll see – but let’s not compare 18 year old apples to 20 year or oranges.

  16. spOILer says:

    AO:

    I think that’s why LT prefers the Damphousse comp, because he and Samwise had similar junior numbers at similar ages.

  17. Asiaoil says:

    spoiler…

    True but I don’t see Sam and Vinny as similar players – Damp-house was essentially an elite journeyman who never provided any of his numerous teams much beyond boxcar numbers throughout his entire career. Sam has shown indications of having “it” and you could never say that of Vinny. The numbers fit but not much else.

  18. Bruce says:

    //Well Kurri was a stunning passer too, he really was. //

    I’ll be honest, I’m too young to remember much of Kurri before LA – but I look at his stats and in the 4 season streak where he hit 50+ goals every year, he scored more goals than assists in each year but one.

    Schitzo: Usually you associate G > A with a pure shooter, but LT is bang on. It’s just that in Wayne’s Wonderful Alternate Universe Kurri was first and foremost the finishing hammer. For those four years his goals totals were so high as to even exceed his assists, but he notched 61, 64, 63, and 54 helpers those years. Those numbers need to be viewed on their own away from the towering shadow of the goals column to be appreciated as elite totals. Kurri was in the top 10 in assists 2 of those years, and 7th, 2nd, 4th, and 2nd in the scoring race. He was a multi-dimensional scorer well beyond anything we’ve seen out of Hemsky to date.

    Kurri’s goal totals sagged a little when Gretzky left, but he remained an elite playmaker with seasons of 44-58-102 and 33-60-93. After notching “only” 43 assists his rookie season, Kurri was the model of consistency with 53-64 assists each of his 9 remaining years in Edmonton. Yet he’s probably better remembered for his sniping and his defensive prowess. What a wonderful player he was.

    In my happiest dreams I can’t see Hemsky doing that.

    Oh no, never. Best we can hope for is an adjustment of the G:A ratio from 2:5 up to, say, 2:3. Ales will always be a playmaker first.

  19. Ender says:

    Honestly, I’d love to see Gagner play with Pisani. I know people bitch about the cup run as unrepeatable, but when Pisani has a decent shot, it tends to go in.

    Besides, is there no hope of Rowbert bieng Kurri?

  20. Lowetide says:

    AO: Damphousse wasn’t useless, though. I mean he HAD value, just not the type of value Gilmour had during his career.

    I don’t think there’s a lot of math evidence to suggest that Gagner is a good match for Gilmour. Knowing that Gilmour entered the NHL as a guy who had done some things without the puck in junior that drew more attention than his offense (until his final season in junior) runs counter to what we know about Gagner.

    The evidence that favors Gagner (smart player, etc) are the types of “intangibles” that I try to stay away from.

    Doesn’t mean I hate the guy, but we’re trying to take emotion and sentiment out of it.

    People do remember Damphousse as a very good player, right? Won a Stanley, I think he led his team in scoring during the playoffs?

    He wasn’t useless, guys.

  21. mc79hockey says:

    Oh no, never. Best we can hope for is an adjustment of the G:A ratio from 2:5 up to, say, 2:3. Ales will always be a playmaker first.

    Not to say that this isn’t true, but young Ales’ ES shots/60 crept above the league average for forwards for what I believe was the first time last year. He took about 10% more shots than the average forward with his ice time.

  22. Sean says:

    He needs to find his Kurri, and it might just be Hemsky.

    Wow LT. That comment has had me thinking for about an hour now. I remember the scouting report on Hemsky being that he had a great shot (although from what I’ve seen a slow release). Its possible but the mentioning on it has really got me wondering.

    Ignoring the stats, I think th Gilmour or Damphouse comparisions both bring good intangibles. Gilmour was a gritty defensive player and from my recollection, Damphouse was clutch as hell in the playoffs. Either one would be good for Gagner going forward. This season will tell a lot of how good Gagner will be. There is a huge difference between capable to bring it at the NHL level and brought it at the NHL level.

  23. Doogie2K says:

    Damphousse did indeed lead the ’93 Habs in scoring during the playoffs.

    And funny thing, LT, you just mentioned Gary Leeman in the thread below, and there he is, a mid-season acquisition from Calgary in exchange for ’86 vet Brian Skrudland. Weird.

  24. spOILer says:

    Vinnie was a very good player. I was excited when he came here, and disappointed when it was for short a time.

    And he could battle too. He showed tremendous fight in that Cup win.

    He was pretty good at picking the top corners, better skater than Gagner is right now, more size, better reach.

    I think Gagner has him on sense and vision though, kid has brains and anticipates the play as good as almost anyone who has played the game.

    Given good health, the increase to his strength and skating that will come as his body matures (given his work ethic), I think he could exceed Damphousse, but I’ll be pretty happy if that’s his ceiling.

    Bruce:

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your good buddy. I have no idea what canine bloat is, but it doesn’t sound good for man or dog. And I’m very glad to see there’s no self-imposed exile from this site. You are truly the Jean Ratelle of posters.

  25. Asiaoil says:

    Well it seems people have fonder memories of Vinny than me – I’m swayed by that year he spent in EDM which was mediocre and I didn’t see a lot of heart or battle. Right now Gags is off the charts as a very young 18 year old 50 point guy – most guys hitting that that level in today’s game (not the 1980s) will be better than Damphousse.

    PS – I thought Gags should have gone down after TC so I’m not a fanboy – just very very impressed with the kid’s performance.

  26. Bruce says:

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your good buddy. I have no idea what canine bloat is, but it doesn’t sound good for man or dog.

    spOILer: You don’t want to know. It was very painful, if short, for Venus; but very painful, and lingering, for my son (she was “his” dog) and the other dog-lovers in the family.

    And I’m very glad to see there’s no self-imposed exile from this site.

    My “deep breaths” lasted about long enough for somebody to invoke the name of Jari Kurri, one of my all-time favourites. At that point, and as per usual, I just couldn’t shut up.

    You are truly the Jean Ratelle of posters.

    Wow, what a nice thing to say. Ratty was a class act all the way. I’m not worthy! but the vote of confidence is appreciated.

  27. Ribs says:

    I know we’re talking about Vinny Damphousse in this thread, but I do wonder when we have to start talking about another Vinny who’s still running around in this league when comparing to Mr. Gagner…

  28. Doogie2K says:

    Vinny Prospal? You think? ;)

  29. Schitzo says:

    My “deep breaths” lasted about long enough for somebody to invoke the name of Jari Kurri, one of my all-time favourites. At that point, and as per usual, I just couldn’t shut up.

    Thanks, Bruce. I was a little worried about flaunting my ignorance and half-expecting a smackdown, so getting your well-thought response instead was a pleasant surprise :)

  30. Bruce says:

    //Best we can hope for is an adjustment of the G:A ratio from 2:5 up to, say, 2:3. Ales will always be a playmaker first.//

    Not to say that this isn’t true, but young Ales’ ES shots/60 crept above the league average for forwards for what I believe was the first time last year. He took about 10% more shots than the average forward with his ice time.

    MC: That's ceratinly a promising development. He also finished fourth in the NHL in 5v5 Asst1/60, which is a lot more than 10% better than average. So my "best case" 2:3 ratio is based on a helluva a lot of assists. (Two seasons >50 already in his career; do you even see him being a 50-goal scorer? Me neither.)

    Since the lockout Ales has recorded G:A ratios of approximately 1:3, 1:3, and 2:5. I'd love to see him step that up to, say, 1:2 in 2007-08. For the optimists in the audience, how does 30-60-90 sound?

  31. PDO says:

    The math doesn’t support it.

    But he’s Pavel Datsyuk.

  32. Master Lok says:

    The more I think about it, the less I like the Gilmour comparison. Gilmour is gritty and a a defensive minded center who can score.

    While it’s obviously early in Gagner’s career, I see him as much more offensive minded and less defensive responsible than Gilmour.

    While I have problems with the Damphousse comparison, it’s because Vinnie was 6’1 and I recall him with a lanky frame (although my memory is hazy at the best of times).

    I’m thinking either a younger Adam Oates, or a higher end Vincent Damphousse.

  33. Coach pb9617 says:

    I don’t think Gilmour comps hold water. That’s just not the type of player Sam has shown himself to be. In other words, it’s wishcasting. I don’t think that he’s ever going to be effective in a checking role of any type. Gilmour was from the time he entered the league.

    I might be crazy here, but when I see Sam at 18, I think Gilbert Perreault at 21. The dandy and deft touch, the knack for being where the puck is going to be, and the ability to find a teammate’s black tape from some amazing spots.

    The skating isn’t there yet, but Sam has two more years of Camp Mandelbaum before anyone can compare — unless they saw juniors Perreault…

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